CAF make U-turn on AFCON venues

CAIRO — The Confederation of African Football have made a U-turn, which will allow several countries to host their Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on home-soil, after all.

The latest developments the Warriors will definitely host their AFCON qualifier against Zambia, later this month, at the National Sports Stadium.

Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Niger and Burundi can now play the Nations Cup ties at home later this month. However the decision from CAF is only a temporary lifting of the ban, because of the current travel restrictions, being implemented aound the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The CAF emergency committee has based on the Covid-19 pandemic and current travel restrictions decided to exceptionally lift the ban on the Siaka Steven Stadium and allow only the remaining Afcon 2021 qualifiers (match-day 5 and 6) to be played,” CAF said in a letter to the Sierra Leone FA.

“After the above-mentioned match-days, Sierra Leone’s playing territory will automatically again be removed from the list of CAF approved stadiums and will not be available for selection on Caf competition management system.”

Similar letters were also sent to Burkina Faso and Burundi. CAF had asked the four countries to move their final home qualifiers to neutral venues after it had ruled that their stadia did not meet the required standards to host international matches.

Sierra Leone had already secured a venue in Conakry, the capital of Guinea to host their Group L tie against Benin.

Burundi, who had been in talks with Morocco to host their tie against Central African Republic in Casablanca, will now be able to play in Bujumbura in Group E.

The Niger Football Federation website has confirmed that their game against Ivory Coast on 26 March will be played at the Stade General Seyni Kountche in Niamey.

There were also fears, in Zimbabwe, the giant stadium, which last year received temporary licence to host the Warriors qualifiers, could be flagged by CAF, after a round of inspections, last month.

This, too, could have forced the Warriors to host Chipolopolo, on foreign soil.

However, the latest developments, means that the reports of the last round of inspections, will not be factored, ahead of the final round of the AFCON qualifiers, this month. — BBC Sport/Sports Reporter.

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